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Tay Schmidt
Tay Schmidt

SSDs The Best Place To Spend Your Upgrade $$s


Looking to upgrade your aging laptop? You can do only so much without a fabrication plant or a tech-savvy witch doctor at your service. In most cases, your options are limited to three: (1) Wipe the machine clean and reinstall the operating system and your programs; (2) add more RAM; or (3) install a new hard drive or solid-state drive (SSD).




SSDs the best place to spend your upgrade $$s


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Many laptop users may be surprised to find that option number 3 is the single most effective update they can perform to an older machine. (Even better: Combine adding an SSD with option number 1.) An SSD upgrade is especially dramatic if the laptop currently relies on a platter-mechanism hard drive. Here are the top laptop SSDs we've tested, followed by a detailed guide that explains how to choose the right one for your laptop.


"SSDs: Okay, where can I get one?" might be your first question. You'll need to do some homework to see if your laptop can accept an SSD upgrade in the first place. If it's just a few years old, it might be able to. Really old models might not have BIOS support for SSDs at all, but a laptop that elderly probably isn't worth upgrading to start with. What you need to know is the kind of drive that's inside the laptop now and whether you can get at it easily for a swap.


First, flip over your laptop and check for a hatch on the underside secured by a small screw or two. If the hatch happens to say "HDD" or something similar, so much the better. Some laptops, such as late-model Apple MacBooks and many super-thin ultraportables, are fully sealed and won't give you access to the innards without the help of a service technician (or some serious courage, plus specialized tools). But if it's possible to do the upgrade yourself, here's what you need to know.


In this same vein, the other recent issue with laptop storage upgrades: As more and more machines move toward thin, light profiles, so do the drive themselves. To accommodate the demand for thinner machines, manufacturers have moved almost fully away from 2.5-inch SSDs, which are the same size as the hard drives they replace. Instead, what you may find inside will be an M.2 solid-state drive, which is a tiny sliver of a drive shaped like a stick of gum. In most cases, an M.2 drive will use the PCI Express bus and employ a speed-up technique called NVMe; otherwise, it will use the conventional Serial ATA (SATA) bus. While M.2 drives are great as space conservers, it can be trickier to figure out how to replace them. Also, in some cases, the laptop will have neither a 2.5-inch drive nor M.2 drive: The SSD will be soldered to the motherboard itself. In that case, sorry, no internal upgrade for you! (Consolation: Check out our guide to the best external SSDs.)


The key thing to know from the outset is the specific kind of drive your laptop has inside. For an upgrade to be worthwhile, you'll be moving from a platter-based, 2.5-inch hard drive to a 2.5-inch SSD, from a hard drive to a higher-capacity hard drive or SSD, or from a cramped SSD to a roomier one.


Finally, there's the question of whether or not all this trouble is actually worth it. If you simply want to add more storage to your laptop, and the prospects of getting inside the chassis are bleak (or the SSD is soldered down), check out our roundups of the best external SSDs, as well as the best external hard drives for Mac and the best external hard drives overall. If you just want a place to keep more photos, music, or files that you don't access all that often, one of these external solutions might suffice, with no screwdriver required.


Otherwise, the chart below details our picks for the top internal SSD upgrades fit for laptops. Upgrading the internal hard drive (2.5-inch) on your laptop to a 2.5-inch SATA SSD is usually more about performance than anything else. Whether it's for faster boot times, reduced load times in gaming, or just overall responsiveness during daily tasks, upgrading the internal drive with the OS installed is what's going to affect these metrics the most, especially if you're going from platter to solid-state storage. Otherwise, going from one boot SSD to another in a laptop is only worthwhile if the point is a bump up in capacity. In that case, you simply want to match the general SSD type (SATA 2.5-inch to another SATA 2.5-inch; PCI Express 3.0 M.2 to same) with a new model that can hold more data.


The reason most people replace their HDD drive with an SSD is performance. Depending on the task at hand, SSDs can be up to 10 times faster than their HDD counterparts. Replacing your hard drive with an SSD is one of the best things you can do to dramatically improve the performance of your older computer.


Does your computer use a regular off-the-shelf Serial ATA (SATA) HDD? If so, you can upgrade it with an SSD. SSDs are compatible with both Macs and PCs. All current Mac laptops come with SSDs. Both iMacs and Mac Pros come with SSDs as well. The iMacs are available with HDDs and SSDs, although older iMacs may have an Apple Fusion Drive, which combines an SSD with an HDD. To determine the disk type in your systems:


Buying a replacement SSD is the first step. Moving your data onto the SSD is the next step. To that end, you need two things: cloning software and an external drive case or drive sled or enclosure, which lets you connect the SSD to your computer through its USB port or another data transfer interface.


In general, any 2013 to 2017 MacBook Air, 2013 to 2015 MacBook Pro, and 2014 Mac mini can be upgraded, with good results. How can you tell if your computer is compatible with an upgrade? When you click on About this Mac, System Report, the Hardware Overview section has a Model Identifier number that you can use to determine compatibility.


The era of traditional hard-disk drives is far from over. Shipments of SSDs were not expected to overtake HDDs until recently. But today, if you have an old Apple computer, you can even upgrade your Mac to an SSD.


On top of offering bulk storage space, this drive comes with speedy load times at 7,000 MB/s, and it has one of the fastest write times around at 6,600 MB/s. The Rocket 4 Plus also offers a sizable heatsink specially designed to replace the PS5's SSD cover to maximize cooling and ensure consistent heat transfer. And you can rest assured that this drive should last the entire lifespan of your PS5 thanks to a five-year or 3,000TBW warranty.


The last couple of years have been rough for those trying to get parts for a new PC build. It's been well over a year since the global chip shortage came into focus, but the situation has only gotten worse when it comes to acquiring parts for a build. Sure, you can always find a workaround to get your hands on new components but it may be a good time to tweak your existing PC or laptop to see if you can squeeze more usage out of it. In this article, we're going to talk about the single most important upgrade you can make to transform your PC experience -- upgrading to an SSD. That's right, adding a Solid State Drive (SSD) is the best upgrade anyone can make to a PC and see a noticeable difference in performance.


Desktop PCs are easier to upgrade than laptops as you have more space to work inside a case and the parts are easily replaceable. The extent of the upgrade, however, depends on the budget and the availability of the components, really. As such, the memory and storage of the PC are the two components that are first in line when it comes to upgrades. They're both are readily available on the market and are easy to install without having to completely dismantle the system. But which one should you upgrade first - RAM or storage?


While RAM is crucial to the overall performance of the computer, there's only so much you can do in the name of memory upgrades. Unless you're working with an extremely old system, you're probably already using DDR4 memory with decent speeds and timings. In that case, the best you can do is add more RAM. But if your installed RAM is already adequate, then you won't see a noticeable improvement in the PC performance by adding more memory.


A storage upgrade, however, can significantly improve the overall performance. Upgrading to a Solid State Drive from a traditional HDD itself will breathe a new life into your PC. It's probably been discussed plenty of times before but allow us to remind you the SSDs blow mechanical disk drives out of the water. We mention HDDs specifically because a surprising amount of users are still using HDDs as the preferred storage option for computing. According to Statista, the unit shipments of hard disk drives (HDDs) in the first quarter of 2021 reached 64.17 million. Though not as high as it was the years that preceded, it's still a huge number.


There are several types of SSDs, but your choice of the upgrade depends on different types of formats and connections too. If you're upgrading an older machine, then you may have to stick to the traditional SATA connection used by HDDs and most 2.5-inch SSDs. It's also important to make sure you have the latest version of SATA i.e. SATA III for the best speeds. SATA III, in case you don't know, is twice as fast as SATA II and up to four times as fast as the age-old SATA I connection type.


PCIe is also a modern connection option that's widely used for better performance nowadays. It offers a faster and more reliable connection than SATA, but it's also more expensive. There's also PCIe NVMe SSDs which essentially use a protocol to communicate with your PC faster. And if you want the best performance out of your system, then we also recommend upgrading to M.2 connectors from SATA. A lot of modern motherboards and laptops have multiple M.2 slots too, but you may not have this option on a relatively older system.


if you're working out an SSD upgrade plan for an old laptop with a CD/DVD drive then you can use that to your advantage with a simple accessory. You can pick up a simple caddy adapter from Amazon to add a 2.5-inch drive to that instead of swapping out the HDD. This will essentially remove the CD/DVD-ROM drive from your laptop, but there's a very good chance it's collecting dust now. We think this DIY project is worth the effort as you get to keep your old HDD as a secondary drive too.


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